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Falcon’s guide to buying the right sun cream

You’ve booked yourself a trip away to somewhere warm. The sun will be out and you’ve no intention of letting the glorious temperatures and golden rays pass you by. You want to let everyone know you’ve been on a blissfully wonderful holiday by returning with a marvellous tan. That’s okay, but you have to be careful, and that means using plenty of sun cream and following other sun protection. With that in mind, here’s the Falcon guide to buying sun cream and protecting yourself from the sun.

What to watch out for

Taking care in the sun

Sun cream is designed to filter the UV rays and stop them from reaching the skin, either by absorbing or deflecting them away from the skin, so look for products that contain oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Be wary of products that promote ‘aqua’ too heavily as an ingredient. Aqua helps to minimise mess when applying the cream, but it also requires strong preservatives to prevent mould developing in the cream as well. Not all of these are good for you.

Sun protection factor (SPF)

The number on the bottle is a multiplication of the length of time it would take your skin to burn without the cream on. If your bottle says SPF15 and your skin would take 5 minutes to go red without the sun cream on, you can stay out in the sun for 75 min with it (5×15) on before your skin begins to burn. Of course, you should also take additional measures, such as wearing a hat to keep the sun off your face, rather than leave the sun cream to do all the work.

Pre-sun care

The best way to prevent sunburn is to stay out of the sun bet  ween 10.00 am on 4.00 pm. However, this isn’t always possible when you’re on holiday in sunny destinations, so wear a hat with a brim of 4 inches (10 cm) because this can protect your eyes, neck, face and scalp. Put on some sunglasses with 100% UV protection and wear light clothing that covers your arms and legs. If the material is sun protective so much the better. And don’t forget to put on sun cream regularly. Rub some lip balm on your mouth too.

After-sun care

If you just couldn’t tear yourself out of the sun and are unfortunate enough to have caught too much of it, put on some after-sun cream. You’ll need to take cool showers and should also hydrate your body by drinking at least 2 litres of water. A little moisturiser will also help. Take care to stay out of the sun while your skin recovers.

Preventing prickly heat

Prickly heat is caused by excessive sweating, so you try to avoid situations that might cause this. While on holiday, try to stay in the shade. Use a fan while you’re out in the heat. You should wear light, loose-fitting clothing, preferably made of cotton.  Opt for cool showers and baths instead of using warm water. This will all help to minimise perspiration.

Remember that there is actually such a thing as having too much of a good thing, so be careful while you’re out there enjoying the sunshine. Take note of all of the above and you’ll be able to make the most of it without feeling sore at the end of the day.

Wearing a hat in the sun

Images by Sunfox, Micah Sittig and dchou123, used under Creative Commons licence

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